A Conversation with Dr. Onyema Ohiaeri

A Conversation with Dr. Onyema Ohiaeri

May 08, 2020

Dr. Onyema Ohiaeri, at home in Fort St. John, is shoveling snow off his car before heading to a meeting. He recalls the first time he visited Fort St. John. “It was quite cold for April and there was snow everywhere.” But the snow did not deter him. “I fell in love with the place after the warm reception I received from the Medical Director, [Dr.] Becky Temple, and the support I received from the other physicians have continued to this day.” And since 2016, he has stayed in love with Fort St. John, where he lives with his wife, Dr. Chinwe Ohiaeri, a child psychiatrist, and their three boys, Chimaobi, 13, Chinazor, 10, and Kelechi, 8. 

Both Dr. Ohiaeri and his wife were raised in Nigeria and practised in Dublin, Ireland before working with Health Match BC to relocate to British Columbia. Dr. Ohiaeri who comes from a family of doctors, believes that being in Fort St. John has made him a better physician. He says that as a medical student, he saw that he too could be as vulnerable as his  patients, and that is why he chose psychiatry. “I saw that I could also be anxious, I saw that I could also be depressed, I saw that I could also be schizophrenic.” Now, he works as an Adult Psychiatrist, is the Addiction Medicine Lead to the North East, and runs an Opioid Agonist Therapy Clinic. The clinic was started in response to the overdose crisis in BC and works with patients to help prevent withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings in those struggling with addiction to opioid drugs.

“I don’t see myself leaving here. I’m in an area of need, an underserved part of the province, but I feel I have fulfillment in what I do.” When asked about his experience working and living in Northern BC he smiles and says, “My family is happy here. We’re satisfied. This is home and I embrace the people; I embrace the environment.” Dr. Ohiaeri cares genuinely about the community he lives in and the work that he does. In 2019, he facilitated a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder awareness session for local first responders and their spouses in Hudson’s Hope, and he continues to do important work serving his community and beyond.